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The Scottish Castles Association
Preserving the Past for the Future

SCA Autumn 2015 Castle Tour to the Scottish Borders

The Scottish Castles Association's autumn tour in September 2015 was based at Dryburgh and was arranged by our ex-president John Hunter. Thank you, John, from all members of the Scottish Castles Association for organising such an interesting tour. Click on the images if you want to enarge them.

DAY ONE - Rhymer's Tower, Whitslaid Tower, Thirlestane Castle, Bermersyde Castle, Littledean Tower


Rhymers Tower
Rhymers Tower

Rhymer’s Tower, fabled residence of ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ who was forced to spend seven years in elf land as a forfeit for having kissed the Fairy Queen, was our first stop. Prosaically it is a much-reduced 16th century vaulted peel tower.


Whitslaid Tower

Whitslaid Tower occupies a site of considerable strength and, together with its seven-foot thick walls, marked this out as a strong house of the 16th century. The parapet was removed and converted into a gabled roof in the 17th century.


Thirlestane Castle

Lunch was at the magnificent Thirlestane Castle, a long, turreted block of the late 16th century but considerably altered over the centuries. Splendid interior


Bermersyde Castle

Bermersyde Castle is a lofty five-storey, early 16th-century tower with walls reaching 10 feet in thickness, remodelled in 1690. Scottish Castle Association members are seen gathering outside.


Littledean Tower

Littledean Tower was the last visit of the first day of the tour. This unique 16th-century tower, built of red sandstone, overlooks the River Tweed.

Here, a simple rectangular tower had been ‘beefed up’ for defence by the addition of a D-shaped tower bristling with gunloops. One of the highlights of the tour.

DAY TWO - Buckholm Tower, Torwood Tower, Old Fairnielee, Smailholm Tower, Timpendean Tower



Buckholm Tower of 1582 was the first stop of the second day of the tour. Roofed as late as the 1930s. A rare survival is part of the barmkin and entrance gateway. Plans are in place for restoration.


Torwood Tower

Torwood Tower dates from 1601 and after centuries of neglect is undergoing consolidation by its appreciative owner. Of interest were the bee boles in the terrace walls, once part of extensive gardens.


Old Fairnilee

Old Fairnilee, from the late 16th-century, was originally a long rectangular house with corbelled turrets. In 1905, the eastern two-thirds were reduced to the foundations, the remainder roofed.


Smailholm Tower

Smailholm Tower, dating from the 16th century, was our first call after lunch. In care of Historic Scotland it was re-floored in the 1980s to house figures from Scottish history. An iconic site.


Timpendean Tower

Timpendean Tower was our last call on the tour - with a pretty challenging long climb up a long track for tired tour legs! This 16th-century vaulted tower stands within extensive earthworks of probable early medieval date. The tower had an extension now demolished but with the scarring clearing visible on the gable.

All in all a great outing for Scottish Castles Association members.

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.

Date posted: 17 Jan 2016Last updated: 17 Sep 2016

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